What do I do with my pet’s body?
Options are home burial or cremation. You may handle burial in your yard if legal for your property. The mobile veterinarian is equipped to handle body care and cremation arrangements. Consider individual cremation with ashes returned or group cremation with no ashes returned. Some people want to save the ashes and others feel it is not necessary to have anything back. Some families are most reassured by bringing their pet’s body to a pet cremation facility themselves. You have the option to witness the cremation or not. If you can’t decide which type of cremation to choose, the mobile vet can take the body to cold storage as undecided and you can wait to see how you feel. After a few days pass, you may be more clear if having ashes back would be helpful or not.
How is my pet transported for cremation?
You can transport the body yourself to a pet cremation facility or your vet clinic. Or you can have the mobile vet handle transport for you. Please set aside two large towels and a blanket or bed sheet that the vet can keep. Think about sending a special toy or blanket or drawing or love note or flowers. The mobile vet will gently wrap your pet’s body. They are equipped with several sized stretchers and baskets. They work alone and do need your help lifting the stretcher to their vehicle. Small pets nestle in the front passenger seat and larger pets rest on a padded dog bed in the back cargo area of an SUV or minivan. There may be enough time for the vet to go directly from your home to the crematorium. If time is limited, the vet has a freezer in their home garage for temporary cold storage. The mobile vet will make arrangements to return the ashes back to you if selected. Ashes can be delivered to you by the vet personally or shipping from the crematory is commonly done. You could arrange with the mobile vet to pick up the ashes from your regular vet clinic or emergency clinic. Or delivery to a friend or neighbor can work. Deliveries are coordinated with when the mobile vet is called to your area again (few days to 1-2 weeks). Please let the vet know if you’d like a special trip in order for your reunion to be as soon as possible.
How do I know that I am really getting only my pet’s ashes back?
Many people have this concern. You may be most reassured by taking your pet’s body to the crematory yourself. Other families don’t want anything to do with cremation transport or process. It’s your choice and it’s good to discuss options and preferences. Google “pet cremation + your city” and call/visit the pet cremation facilities in your area. Individual cremation means your pet’s body is separated from others and ashes are saved for you. A less expensive option is group cremation: bodies are laid quite close together and ashes are not separated and not saved. Mixed ashes that are not saved may be buried in landfills (which can handle the sheer volume of cremains produced annually). Few crematoriums own enough land to accommodate spreading the ashes on their property. This spreading area may be private/not accessible or it may be designed as a memory garden with walking trails.
Body Care Arrangements: Burial or Cremation
Thinking about options ahead of time will give you and your family the opportunity to discuss how you would like to memorialize your beloved pet.
- Family or friend’s cabin or farm or property
- Pet cemetery
Factors to consider:
- Will the city/county/development allow pet burials? Check local ordinances.
- Is it winter? Is the ground is frozen? Could you bury ashes in the spring?
- Will you always live in the area or have access to the burial ground?
- What will you surround the body with: special blankets or a handmade wood box or a cardboard box or a biodegradable casket? Include a special toy or note or flower? Keep collar with you or on the pet’s body?
Body transport & cremation options:
Consider which option gives you the best peace of mind for your body care concerns. Think about how much time you may need with your pet’s body to process the shock of the loss. Minutes, hours, days? The choice is yours. There are no right or wrong answers. Everyone is different.
- Do you wish to take your pet’s body to the cremation facility or vet clinic yourself? (Line your vehicle or box with plastic, then towels and blankets to contain leaking urine.) Do you want to go there the same day or the next day? Do you need help lifting? Do you wish to be present for the cremation? View the cremation?
- Less involvement in the cremation process may be desirable: (1) The crematory can pick up your pet’s body from your home the same day or the next day. Are you OK with meeting another service at your home during your private time of grief? (2) Your mobile veterinarian can transport your pet’s body for you after giving you time with the body following the home euthanasia. Most home visits last 30-60 minutes. Mobile vets use a home freezer system similar to a vet clinic for temporary cold storage while awaiting cremation pick up. Are you OK with this system? Set aside two large towels and a blanket or bed sheet that the vet can keep for gently wrapping the body.
- How do I know that my pet’s remains are treated respectfully and that I am really getting only my pet’s ashes back? You may be best reassured by bringing your pet’s body to the crematorium yourself. You can visit and interview the pet cremation facilities in your area beforehand to choose the most comfortable facility for your needs. Google “pet+cremation+your city”.
- Do you want a fur clipping? Consider what areas you would like fur from. Set aside a plastic or cellophane bag or ribbon to tie longer locks of fur.
- Do you want a clay paw print impression?
- You may not need any ashes returned. This is called group or communal cremation. Your pet will be cremated close together with other pets and their mixed ashes will be scattered in a designated area or landfill if the crematory does not have enough property for spreading. Does your crematory have a public walking area and allow visiting the scatter area or is the scatter area private/not designed for public access?
- Yes, I do want ashes returned. Do you need ashes back ASAP or in a week or two? Are you comfortable with ashes being shipped to your home from the crematory? Do you prefer hand delivery from the mobile vet? Where is the best place for shipping or delivery: home, work, friend, family, pick up at regular vet clinic or emergency clinic?
Memorial Service Options:
Some families may want to have time with their pet after death. You may want the support of friends, family members, and other pets in the household. Consider where you wish to gather: at home, at a special location, at the cremation facility? When will you all be together? Meet at the home euthanasia visit or at a later time? You may want to plan a gathering that does not involve the body of the pet. Think about incorporating important family or religious rituals:
- Read a special poem, remembrance, or scripture
- Display memorial items (a drawing, children’s memorial artwork, note to the pet, handmade box, collar, fur clipping, photos, toys, blankets, clay paw print)
- Plant a tree/flower/bush (PetTree.com or MyEternalFamilyTree.com)
- Light candles as a tribute
- Share stories and videos of the pet and your family
Memorialization Options (more info under Grief Resources tab):
- Rock, garden stone, burial marker
- Various wood, metal, or photo urn options (BestFriendServices.com)
- Bury ashes in a special location
- A piece of art done to depict your pet’s personality (Pet Portraits By Bethany or The Pet Sketcher)
- A box to hold your pet’s paw print or a ribbon tied around a fur clipping
- Locket jewelry to hold a bit of the pet’s ashes or fur (EternallyWithMe.com)
- Inscription ideas: Nicknames? A saying: “Our Beautiful Beau” “Forever In Our Hearts” “Our Beloved Maggie” “Until We Meet Again At The Rainbow Bridge” Dates: birth date/adoption date to death date